19 Jan 2009

More on (mobile social) networking in Istanbul

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the shiny new Microsoft MEA office in Istanbul, which was the venue for this month's local Mobile Monday meeting. Part of the pleasure was being reminded of the warm hospitality I always experience when meeting telecoms people from Turkey. The pre-meeting drinks, nibbles and chatter session yielded lots of interesting new contacts. Among these were representatives of the country's three mobile operators and owners/directors of a number of value-added services companies. Mobile banking solutions seemed to be quite a well represented area so perhaps this is something set to gain traction in Turkey.

Ostensibly, I was there to speak on behalf of Informa Telecoms & Media, making a presentation on the theme of mobile social networking. This was drawn from a comprehensive report on that subject, an updated second edition of which is currently being prepared. With a 25-minute time slot, I was only able to offer a few of the ideas covered in the report. A number of those present were kind enough to indicate that they had found the presentation helpful. Judge for yourself. Natali Yeşilbahar, the Mobile Monday Istanbul organiser, has made the slides available here. If you want the notes which I used to provide examples and expanded comments, please let me know any time.

Mine was one of two speeches made that evening, the other being offered by Mehmet Arslantunalı, General Manager of Mobilife magazine, a telco sector publication in the local vernacular. Mehmet's presentation was also made in Turkish so I was not able to gain from it. Those of you who do understand that language are invited to have a look at the slides and fill me in on what I missed!

I understand that Microsoft is a new member of the roster of companies that have hosted Mobile Mobile Monday Istanbul meetings. I believe that the privilege usually falls to one or other of the MNOs - Turkcell, Avea or Vodafone. I am pleased that Informa Telecoms & Media will be joining this exalted company in April, at which time we will be providing the meeting facilities and laying on the catering. The venue will be the city's Mövenpick Hotel, which will also be the home of this year's Eurasia Com conference and exhibition - our annual gathering of senior telecoms people not only from Turkey but also from the CIS markets of the Caspian and Central Asian regions (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc.). Natali was kind enough to allow me drum up further local support for the event.

A number of the meetings which I arranged during the rest of my short stay should have a positive impact on the conference element of the Eurasia Com event. One which is very straightforward is the addition of a further speaker from Turkcell. Given the extensive coverage given to the issue of MVNOs possibly hitting the Turkish market in the near future, I am delighted to welcome Dr. Deniz Tunçalp to the panel of speaker. Deniz is in charge of the market-leading cellco's discussions with prospective MVNOs and as well as outlining his thoughts on barriers and opportunities for potential virtual operators in Turkey, he has offered his assistance with encouraging these companies to attend. It is my understanding that these players will come from an interesting mix of non-telecoms brands.
All in all, another useful and enjoyable trip to Istanbul - but I still haven't found time to do more than scratch the surface in terms of really enjoying the city's countless tourist sights, historical treasures and entertainment. Next time, I hope...